Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Lonely tree, Namibia
Namibia is vast and sparse and beautiful. The land stretches so far towards the horizon that I can imagine the ends of the earth are just beyond my view. I love feeling like a tiny speck in an infinite landscape, like the whole world is empty and all of this laid out in front of me is mine. It's so different from home where I'm constantly surrounded by trees, mountains, and water. This place carries a different and quieter type of beauty.
Etosha means "big white space" and Etosha National Park is just that: a giant, parched salt pan surrounded by endless yellowing grassland and the odd patch of shrubby forest. Except this year they've had a lot of rain so the salt pan is now a massive lake and there's more blue around than white. Because it's so open I've got some of my best pictures yet, especially of giraffes, which seem to be in abundance here. I am a huge fan of these creatures with their disproportionate limbs, dopey expression, and orange checkered coat. I also visited a cheetah sanctuary where they rescue injured and problem cheetahs. They've had some since they were tiny cubs so they are very tame, like giant house cats, and can be petted. The difference is if a cheetah gets a little pissy and decides to swat at you it can tear an arm off. So I pet with caution, but I soon had the giant kitty purring in my hands. Other cheetahs at the sanctuary are semi wild and I had a chance to watch them feed, but I stayed safely in the jeep for that. I would rather watch lunch than BE lunch!
You would think as one of the more rich countries in Africa there would be some money around to invest in things like roads. In Namibia, all roads are all some combination of dirt, rock, and sand and bumpy at best. Maybe because there are next to no people here (2.5/kmand most of those are in the capital of Windhoek) the government has decided it's not worth it. Our poor truck has bumped and rattled it's way across this country and of course, we got stuck. Now, when you're in the middle of the Namib Desert you can't just call a tow truck to come rescue you, you are basically on your own and you can hope whatever few strangers happen to drive by will stop to help. Never in the cool of the morning or evening do these events happen, no, no. They happen in the heat of the afternoon on the biggest hangover day of the entire trip. Almost everyone in the group had closed the campsite bar the night before doing an excessive amount of $2 shots. We stumbled into our tents at 3:30am and were up at 5:30am again to pack up camp in a dazed, half asleep, half still drunk stupor. So you can imagine how stoked we were when our bus came to a grinding halt into a sand bank in one of the hottest, driest regions of the world at the warmest time of day. We piled out cursing the cheap booze from the night before and begrudgingly helped dig or push or collect rocks or whatever needed doing. Some passersby stopped to help but even the tug of a 4x4 and a dozen people pushing wasn't able to free us. I was just beginning to contemplate if we would have to pitch our tents for the evening when a travel bus similar to our own drove by and offered us a tow. The crowd that had accumulated over the hours burst into applause when our truck was FINALLY was pulled  from the sand.

Above: Dune 45     Below: Sand boarding
You eventually reach a place in Namibia where even the grass struggles to survive. Giant, red sand dunes the size of mountains rise into a perfect blue sky, their sandy limbs snaking and slithering into the valley floor. I got up at 4:00am to hike famous dune #45 for sunrise. I also did some sand boarding. On my first run down the dune I discovered that it wasn't far off from snowboarding, except maybe a little harder to turn. The other difference was I had to walk back up to the top in the hot sun. As I am accustomed to chair lifts and cool temperatures, I personally thought this part was super lame for 20 seconds worth of carving. While it may seem less extreme, sand sledding is really where it's at. They wax up this thin little piece of fibreboard and send you down the hill head first where you reach speeds of up to 80kph (yes, they even clock you with a speed gun). Now THAT is worth walking back up the hill for!

I am now in South Africa. We pretty much B-lined it for Cape Town and I am here catching up on errands and pondering over a new camera lens that I can't really afford....Although a recent donation from a very generous couple will most likely make it possible. Cape Town is a completely modern city and it feels more like home than Africa. I'm sure there are bad neighbourhoods but the place we are staying is a short walk from the waterfront and seems completely safe. I'm pretty sure there are more Mercedes and BMWs around here than murderers or muggers! Why does everyone say it's so dangerous? I don't get it! My next post will hopefully be from Johannesburg before I fly out to South America. 'Til then!


  1. Hey Jordie,
    Glad to hear you are alive and well! Your adventures in Africa sound amazing again.... can't wait to see the whole photo journey when you finally make it back.

    Take care of yourself and write often :)
    Miss ya,

  2. I love the first picture of Nambia - all that sky and nothing else but space. I would love to experience that infinite landscape and the solitude. Was it really quiet as well? It sounds wonderful! Love, Mum